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Ghana Modern History

Of all the British colonies in sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana was the first to become independent. In 1957 the country became a nation of the Commonwealth (Britain and former British colonies), with Kwame Nkrumah as the first prime minister. In 1960, Ghana became the republic and Nkrumah its first president. He ran a socialist policy, which ended in economic failure. Since Nkrumah was deposed in a military coup in 1966, Ghana was ruled by a series of military regimes before a democratization began in the 1990s. The 2001 presidential shift between Jerry Rawlings and John Kufuor became the first in Ghana to take place through a democratic election.

Kwame Nkrumah, who had led the independence struggle against the British (see Older History), had new industries, roads and schools built. But the state-controlled economy and Nkrumah's contacts with communist Eastern Europe caused the Western world to withdraw its financial support for the country. Ghana was also hit hard by falling cocoa prices.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing Ghana. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.

Nkrumah's rule was characterized by growing corruption and intolerance against the opposition. After a constitutional change, in 1964 Ghana became a one-party state under Nkrumah's radical, Socialist Assembly People's Party (CPP).

A series of military coups

Increasing dissatisfaction with Nkrumah's politics and the country's rapidly deteriorating economy led to a group of high-ranking military in 1966 dismissing the president. The one-party system and the 1964 constitution were annulled by the military regime, which allowed the CPP to dissolve. The coup makers adapted the market to the economy, which led Western countries to start providing financial support to Ghana again. A new constitution was written and general elections were held in 1969. A civil government took office.

Contemporary History of GhanaHowever, the economic mismanagement became even worse during the civilian government, which was deposed in 1972 in a military coup led by Colonel Ignatius Acheampong. Under him, the economic crunch continued due to poor harvests and a high price of oil, which Ghana must import. Corrupted military enriched themselves while the commodity shortage was getting worse. Acheampong promised a return to civilian rule but was deposed in 1978 in a palace coup.

After the coup, general elections were prepared, but in June 1979, two weeks before the planned election, a group of young officers led by Nkrumah-friendly aviation lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings conducted another coup. The election was then held under Rawling's supervision. Winning became the People's National Party (PNP), led by Hilla Limann. Before Rawlings surrendered power to Limann, he let three former military leaders, including Acheampong, execute and imprison hundreds of officers and officials. Spent money was seized and withheld taxes were collected.

Rawlings back to power

Limann's presidential term was characterized by continued economic downturn combined with fierce power struggles within the ruling PNP. On New Year's Eve 1981, Rawlings regained power. All political bodies were dissolved, the constitution was repealed and the parties banned. Instead, the country was governed by a military-dominated defense council (Provisional National Defense Council, PNDC), led by Rawlings. At the local level, so-called Peoples Defense Committees, later called Revolution Committees, were appointed.

Rawling's takeover of power and subsequent purge of the military triggered a series of coup attempts in the following years. The regime's economic austerity policy created conflicts with both unions and students. Following pressure from Western aid donors, a return to civilian rule was being prepared. A new constitution was adopted in a 1992 referendum by a large majority (see Political system). The party ban was lifted and six new parties formed. The PNDC's supporters supported the formation of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Presidential elections were held in November 1992. Since the opposition was divided, Rawlings won over 58 percent of the vote. Foreign observers felt that everything had gone right, but the opposition claimed that there was an election fraud and boycotted the parliamentary elections in December that year. As a result, NDC and its allies received all but two mandates. In January 1993, Rawlings officially took office as President and the Governing Council dissolved.

The Nkrumah followers lose power

In 1994, disputes in northern Ghana erupted between the landless people group Konkomba and the landowned nanumba. Violence increased as other ethnic groups allied themselves with either side. About 1,000 people were killed and more than 150,000 residents fled the area before a peace agreement could be concluded. Occasional outbreaks of violence between the two groups then occurred throughout the 1990s.

A rapid democratization began in the early 1990s, and economic neglect declined. The economy began to grow when Ghana became one of the Western donors' favorites in Africa.

In the 1996 elections, the opposition offered the government side proper resistance. Although the NDC gained its own majority, the market liberal New Patriotic Party (NPP) took 61 of the 200 seats. Rawlings was re-elected as President.

During the latter part of the 1990s, popular dissatisfaction increased again, partly because the economy again turned downward. The greater part of the population had not been aware of the increased wealth earlier in the decade. Rawling's government was also accused of corruption.

In the 2000 presidential election, NPP's candidate, Oxford-trained lawyer John Agyekum Kufour, who has been a Member of Parliament since 1969. defeated Kufuor as a member of the royal family of the old Ashanti kingdom. The market liberal NPP gained a slight overweight over the NDC in the parliamentary elections that year. The political heirs of Kwame Nkrumah ended up in opposition, after Jerry John Rawlings left the presidential post after 19 years.

Historical shift in power

Kufuor's victory became a milestone in Ghanaian politics when a switch to the presidential post for the first time in the country's history took place through a democratic election. Independent observers described the 2000 election as one of the freest, best-organized, and most justice-driven in Africa, despite the occasional violence.

President Kufuor's political program was reminiscent of his predecessor, but he was taken to power by voters who had tired of Rawling's authoritarian and sometimes unpredictable leadership style. Kufuor emphasized the fight against corruption and the expansion of school and care. A Truth Commission was set up in 2002 to gather testimony on human rights violations committed under Rawling's military rule. The Commission's final report was published in 2005 (see Political system).

Kufuor and NPP strengthened their positions in the 2004 elections, which were conducted under calm conditions, with the exception of minor unrest in the north. As in the previous election, Kufuor defeated Rawling's former vice president John Evans Atta Mills, an academic and tax expert who was the NDC's candidate.

Kufuor was favored by the fact that an increasingly strong economy is now beginning to be felt in people's everyday lives. Inflation fell, and NPP was also able to show improvements in healthcare, maternity care and school care. Legal security and media freedom were also considered to have been strengthened during NPP's time in power (2000–2008).

The Nkrumahists are back in office

In the first round of the presidential election in December 2008, NPP candidate Nana Akufo-Addo barely won over NDC's Mills, but as no candidate achieved 50 percent, a second and decisive round between the two candidates who received the most votes, ie Mills and Akufo-Addo. In the parliamentary elections that were conducted simultaneously, NPP lost by a marginal margin its former majority to the NDC. International observers considered the election to be correct.

The second round of the presidential elections later that month became extremely smooth. Mills won with 50.2 percent of the vote against 49.8 percent for Akufo-Addo. Both parties accused each other of cheating, but the Election Commission found the evidence insufficient.

During his term of office (2008–2012), President Mill's Social Democratic NDC government practiced essentially the same economic policy as the NPP had done since the turn of the millennium. The influential finance minister Kwabena Duffuor soon began unpopular budgetary tightening. Mills enjoyed the respect of many Ghanaians, but his authority within the party was constantly challenged by the mighty Jerry Rawlings.

Ahead of the December 2012 presidential election, Rawling's wife Nana Konadu Rawlings competed against Mills to become the NDC candidate. The challenge was seen as an attempt by Jerry Rawlings to strengthen his position within the party. It became a bitter political battle, in which President Mills was accused of corruption and of repelling the NDC's traditional supporters. Mills struggled to hold the NDC together, and at the July 2011 party congress, he won a convincing victory and was named the party's presidential candidate.

President Mills's unexpected death in July 2012 suddenly changed the conditions for the upcoming election.

 
 

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